Over 1,000 polling stations, 800 international observers, nearly two million eligible voters, and one hope – that the Palestinian presidential elections will produce a victor who can win peace.
Opinion polls give Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah movement’s candidate to replace the late Yasser Arafat, the lead. He has pledged to carry on the fight for a Palestinian state, but by non-violent means, and is accepted by both the West and Israel as a possible partner for talks. The biggest rival to Abbas is Mustafa Barghouti, an independent who also advocates peaceful means to reach a settlement. Five other candidates are running. Militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called a boycott of the election.